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Seeding

What exactly is seeding, anyway? My dictionary says a seed is "any of a number of stronger competitors in a sports tournament who have been assigned a specified position in an ordered list with the aim of ensuring that they do not play each other in the early rounds". Two things prompted my question: the only example of "seeding" I can remember seeing is that a club here used to put markers out on (iirc) every fourth table, saying that only A pairs should sit there. The movement was invariably a Mitchell, so half the A pairs would play one of the other half in the first round, and then every fourth round after that they'd play another one. This seems contrary to my dictionary's definition. The other thing is a recent article by Phil Clayton in which he wrote of "the seed", implying only one, which also seems to contradict my dictionary. I'm confused. What is seeding, and why and when and how do we do it?

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